Cops believe Reggie Allen mowed down an unarmed black man outside an east-side club more than a year ago. So why isn't he behind bars?

"They came in like a SWAT team, guns in our faces, telling us to get on the floor," says Brittany Shelnutt, one of the girls. "They tell us we can't grab our clothes. So we're literally in our garter belts, piling into this paddy wagon. It was the most God-awful embarrassing thing of my life."

Shelnutt says that the building had previously been a rough-and-tumble biker bar with a reputation for excluding blacks. The new owners weren't any more welcoming, at least while she worked there, she says.

"If you were black, you weren't allowed in there,'" Shelnutt says. And it wasn't an effort to avoid gang violence, she says. "Some of these guys who wanted to come in were 50-year-old men. I honestly think it was a race thing."

Tim Lane

Shelnutt had problems with Reggie Allen, too. "He was a pervert," she says. "Always grabbing, groping. He'd shine flashlights on us while we were onstage. I don't know why."

But in July 2005, Allen faced much bigger problems than public indecency. An undercover sting implicated him in a meth-dealing operation headquartered in a shop about a mile from Miss Kitty's. He was charged with fifteen felony counts and, after pleading guilty to two, served about two years in prison.

The sentencing order reads: "Court strongly recommends that Defendant receive drug treatment while in [custody]. Defendant expresses desire for treatment."

While behind bars, Allen also pleaded guilty to an offense he'd committed on July 22, 2004. Late that evening, police records state, Allen was driving along McBride Avenue in Dupo. He almost struck a motorcyclist, Billy Reed. Reed tailed Allen to his destination and confronted him.

According to the officer's report, Allen told the man, "You don't know who the fuck you're talking to," then bashed Reed in the mouth with a liquor bottle. The motorcyclist said he tried to stand up, but Allen threw the car in reverse, knocking him over and crushing the front wheel of his motorcycle.

Court and police records from 2000 through 2009 contain an impressive catalog of criminal charges — at least 35 — against Allen, all of which were ultimately dismissed for one reason or another:

• Fifteen incidents of assault or battery, including a 2000 case in which Allen allegedly pushed down a young woman described as a "household member" then kicked her in the face.

• In another 2002 case that resulted in a battery charge, Allen and two accomplices admitted to an officer that they'd beaten a man in a dispute over a stolen motorcycle. When police arrived at the hospital, the victim was injured so badly, he was drifting "in and out."

• Six incidents involving damage to property, including one instance in 2000 when, during an argument at a Dupo auto-body shop, Allen shattered his adversary's car window with a glass jar. A shootout erupted, and Allen fled. Police later found him hiding in the closet of his grandmother's trailer.

• In a different damage-to-property episode in 2003, Allen was trying to retrieve his girlfriend late one night at her family's home in Cahokia. He broke through the screen door and began beating the front door with a golf club. As the girlfriend sobbed and her mother screamed hysterically, her father came to the door naked — and armed. Allen cocked back the golf club as if ready to hit the father. When the father fired a shot at the boy's feet, Allen ran away.

Many of these charges were dismissed in plea bargains. But in at least eight of them, the victim simply failed to show up for court. On one occasion, the reason was all too obvious.

In the early morning of June 23, 2003, Allen got into an argument with the mother of his children, April Hammond. When Hammond instructed her stepsister, Amanda Hail, to call 911, Allen allegedly smacked Hail in the forehead with a flashlight, then shattered the phone against the wall and left the scene.

A St. Clair County sheriff's deputy wrote in his report that he arrived to see Hail "covered in blood." When he interviewed the women, both blamed Allen. The officer then followed Hail's ambulance to St. Mary's Health Center, where she received several stitches.

Upon leaving the hospital, the officer spoke with April Hammond, the sole witness.

"This time," the officer wrote, "[Hammond] stated she did not see [Hail] get hit by Reggie and that if she did see anything, he would kill her if she told on him."

Just hours after Anthony Rice's death in October 2009, East St. Louis mayor Alvin Parks put the hammer down: He set a temporary 1 a.m. limit on all alcohol sales. Rice's had been the second club-related killing that weekend, and Parks called the liquor vendors to an emergency meeting on October 7.

Although Missouri attorney Justin Meehan wasn't invited, he showed up anyway.

Meehan, who is white, sports a goatee and favors Black Panther-style berets. In addition to practicing law in St. Louis, he studies and teaches martial arts. He also happens to be great-uncle to the Rice brothers, having married into their family decades ago.

Before the gathering, he dug around on Reggie Allen. "When we saw this guy's record, we about fell out of our chairs," he says. "I do criminal law. I don't ever see this."

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